Mindful Eating


I know it’s been awhile since my last blog post, and I do apologize.  My excuse is that The Joyful Elephant has been flooded with inquiries from individuals wanting resources for healthy meal planning as a result of some recent publicity that I received.  It’s nice to feel the love!  I do post to The Joyful Elephant Facebook page several times a week and that is the best way to keep in touch with me.  Facebook is where I share tips, recipes, and links to relevant news articles and other nutrition experts.  (You do not need to have a Facebook account to view my page.)


This blog post is about Mindful Eating.


There are many books on the subject and you can explore more about it on the internet, but I wanted to give you a brief overview of the key concepts that I discuss with my clients, especially those looking to lose weight.


What does the word ‘mindful’ mean to you?  To me it means doing something purposefully and thoughtfully.  When I am being mindful, I think about what I am about to do, and I am present in the moment when I am doing it.  If we apply this approach to food we can be very successful in sticking to our diet plan.


1.  When you are planning your meal, or deciding what you are going to eat at this moment, remember your health and wellness goals that you have established for yourself.  Ask yourself, is what I’m about to eat enable me to reach this goal?  For example, if your goals are to lose weight and reduce your cholesterol, eating a piece of cheese will sabotage your goals.  Your diet success starts with mindfully choosing foods that will help you to reach your health goals, and feeling good about those choices.


2.  If you are struggling with a food craving that you know you shouldn’t eat, for example a high fat, high sodium junk food item, I recommend closing your eyes and meditate on your wellness goals.  Really center yourself and remind yourself that you are in control and you have the CHOICE to eat, or not eat, that food.


3.  Think about every bite that you take of your food and enjoy its flavor and texture.  In your mind, describe the taste of your food:  crunchy, creamy, crispy, firm, bitter, juicy, aromatic, herbaceous, nutty, lemony, etc…  You can accomplish this by sitting quietly at the dinner table and keep your thoughts in your head, or you could challenge your family to come up with the adjectives as you enjoy your dinner together.  It could prove to be riotously funny if you have some creative family members!


4.  Ask yourself, “am I truly hungry?”  A great tip for diet success is breaking habits.  Many of us have habits such as snacking in front of the tv, or eating a granola bar between breakfast and lunch, etc.  We do these things simply out of routine, but we really aren’t hungry.  Our brain tricks us into thinking we’re hungry, but in reality our brain is merely reminding us to do something that we do regularly.  So we need to retrain our brain by breaking these routine habits and understand when we are really hungry. 


Switching to a whole foods, plant-based diet from the standard American diet is stressful for most of us.  In order to reach our health and wellness goals, whatever they may be, we need to drastically change our approach to food.  We obviously can’t eat the same things in the same quantities and still reach our goals.  We need to completely change the way we do everything relating to food.  This requires planning and conscientious thought. 


As always, your comments are appreciated.


In great health,

The Joyful Elephant